Coming Home: Welcome to Reality

And here we are for the 4th entry in Coming Home. It’s a little ragged so keep your expectations low. 🙂 If you missed the previous installments, you can find them here.

Photo by Calvin Polen on Unsplash

Welcome to Reality

“Please release me let me go because you know I don’t know the words to this song, let’s go . . . ” Twelve times I sang that line off-key before Russ, or Russy as he’d now be affectionately known when I spoke to him, appeared.

He put his hands on the bars, his eyes danced, and he grinned at me. “My guys said to get you out of here or they’d resign.”

“What’s holding you up? You don’t want your guys to resign, do you?”

He unlocked my cage door. “Wait for me.”

“Like where am I going to go with my car back at the old homestead?”

“With you, who knows?”

I nodded. He had a point.

I walked behind him, aware of the eyes of the deputies and receptionist following me. After my animal roar, I suppose they are all going to keep a safe distance from this crazy lady. Strangely (okay, not at all strangely), I was just fine with that.

As we left the sheriff’s office, I shivered. The temperature had fallen substantially during my incarceration and my breath hovered white as I walked alongside Russ. When I made a move to get into the backseat he just shook his head.

“You mean I can sit in the front now?” I asked sarcastically.

“Get in before I change my mind.”

I didn’t need to be told twice.

There are times when it’s hard to slide back into a relationship with someone. You feel uncomfortable, words fail, but with Russ, it felt like it could have been yesterday when we were last together. It didn’t feel like thirteen years had created insurmountable litter between us.

“So, you and Erin,” I said.

“No. Never me and Erin.”

“But she grabbed your arm and called you, Russy. You let her call you Russy.”

“Your sister is a sweet girl who was looking out for me.”

I glanced at him in disbelief. “Why would she need to look out for you?”

“Because the woman who broke my heart, and hers for that matter, roared, literally, back into town. She looks out for her own.”

“Meaning I don’t.”

“I didn’t say that, but now that you mention it.”

“You knew I was leaving,” I said, feeling suddenly defensive. “It wasn’t a secret.”

“I was going to go with you.”

“We both know that wouldn’t have worked.”

“We do?”

My arms immediately crossed in front of my chest. All comfort vanished.

We traveled in silence for several moments. I gazed out at darkness while he stared straight ahead.

“Listen. It doesn’t matter anymore. It was thirteen years ago. I’m over it. I’m over you,” he said.

Ouch. I glanced at his profile. “You’re married?”

“I was,” he said.

“Oh, divorced?”

“She died. Cancer, five years ago. She was a beautiful woman and cancer is a bitch.”

I felt myself shrinking into my seat, contemplating the passage of thirteen years and my absence. Maybe I was a cow. I sure didn’t feel fabulous sitting there.

“I’m sorry.”

He nodded.

“Did I know her?”

“Colleen Rafferty.”

I did know her. She had been my opposite in every way. Class valedictorian. Beautiful redhead with crystalline blue eyes. Volunteered at the senior center. Read books on Saturday to little kids at the library.

At Great Aunt Killian’s he cut the engine and moved to get out of his squad car. I raised my hand to halt him.

“You don’t have to come in. It’s probably a mess.”

“Actually, it’s not.”

“What?”

“I’ve had someone keeping it clean.”

“You have? Why?”

“Because I know you, Maddie. I knew you’d come back. I thought sooner rather than later, but here it is later.”

I swallowed the lump in my throat as tears welled. Turning away before he could see, I nodded. “Well, thank you. I appreciate it. Tell me how much I how you.”

“That is probably something you could never afford,” he said.

end of Part 4

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